Well Christmas has come and gone but it won’t soon be forgotten. This is especially true for those of you who got a brand new puppy. A puppy is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Not only does he keep on giving….. he also keeps on barking, pooping, and chewing nearly everything that it can find. There are many different ways to fix each of these annoying habits, but for now let’s focus on the pooping and peeing. We will refer to this as puppy crate training.
Puppy crate training is basically using a crate to help teach your pup when and when not to go to the potty. Below are some of the steps that will help make sure your dog is properly crate trained.
I. Proper Crate Size for Puppy Crate Training
The first step is making sure that you have the proper crate size. Basically the crate should be the same size required for an airplane flight. The standard on this is pretty simple. Your pup needs to have enough room to stand up and turn around without touching the sides. Anything smaller and your pup will be cramped and not want to go in the crate. If you get a crate that is too large your pup will defecate inside of the kennel. The general rule is that a dog will not defecate in his bed. Therefore keep the crate the size that will be just right for a comfy bed and you will be headed in the right direction. If you are crate training a puppy that happens to be a Labrador or another large breed, I would highly recommend getting a larger crate that can be partitioned so the puppy can grow into it like this puppy training crate.
II. Puppy Time Alone
Once you have the right sized crate, you will begin by putting the dog in the crate to spend time alone. You pup is likely to bark or whine but don’t be alarmed. Simply walk away with the crate door shut. Eventually your pup will learn that barking doesn’t get the results that he was hoping for and after a few days he will quit this habit. However, keep in mind that if he gets his way and you come running to the rescue, then you are teaching him to bark. This is basically Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning. This theory basically says we repeat that which gives us the desired results. It holds true for animals as well as humans.
III. “Go Potty” Time
The third step in puppy crate training is the “go potty” terminology command. After a few hours alone in the crate, open the door and immediately take the pup outside to a grassy area and say the term “go potty.” Wait until your pup does his business then reward him by saying “good dog” and pet him on the head. After his potty break, feel free to return inside for play time. Keep an eye on pup and if he begins sniffing like he’s wanting to go potty, or begins to squat, then pick him up immediately and place him outside in the grass. Once you’re outside with the dog, repeat the “go potty” command. (by saying this term consistently, the dog will learn that this term is synonymous with peeing and pooping outside of the house.) Even if the pup never tries to pee or poop in the house, once you have finished play time, go through the outside potty method listed above.
IV. Back Inside the House
After the pup eventually potties outside, then return him to his crate for a couple more hours and repeat. After his last potty break of the day, bring pup to his crate and offer feed and water. Let the pup eat and drink inside his crate. Once finished wait about 15-30 minutes and let him outside one final time before bedtime. If you choose to follow his bathroom break with more family time then you must be sure that he goes to potty again before returning to his crate for the night. Once pup is put down for the night, be disciplined to not return as he barks and whines. Leaving him a chew bone at night this will help the process. First thing in the morning, let pup out and start the processes all over. Remember, the puppy crate training pattern is simple: To the potty before getting in crate and to the potty before returning to crate. Keep a watch during the rest of the time until you can begin to “trust” your pup to go to bathroom when he is supposed to.
Puppy crate training is actually a simple process that should only take a few weeks to master. The main focus is consistency. I encourage you to show your puppy lots of love and attention and to be patient. The truth is you and I weren’t born potty trained and neither is your new pup. However, eventually we got it because our parents didn’t give up. Just hang in there and be consistent and success will be soon to follow. In my life today, I am fully potty trained (thank goodness!) but I still mess up in other areas of my life. I am so glad that my Heavenly Father forgives me and doesn’t give up on me. Show your pup the same grace that God so generously shows us. Have a Happy New Year! You’ve got this!!!